You knew it was only a matter of time before perfect little Lady Mary would have her perfect little cherub child that she can order around and tell what to do and make it's life absolute living hell. Well, she's not officially pregnant yet, but the foreshadowing was so dark it makes the middle of the night look like a florescent light bulb show room. Matthew and Mary are going to conceive the once and future heir of Downton Abbey and the rest of us are just going to have to deal with their perfection.
But last night there were plenty of things to both love and hate, as there always are. Before Ethel gets back out there selling her body for tuppence, let's have a look at all of them, shall we?
Lady Edith's Wardrobe: I don't know if she's catching up with the times, using the money she's making from her burgeoning journalism career on clothes, or getting rid of poor old Sir Anthony Strallan has finally made her hip and young, but Lady Edith is looking better than ever. Whether it's her orange dresses that flatter her coloring, this demure and professional ensemble she wore to meet her editor for the first time, or the lovely lavender frock she wore to Sybil II: The Revenge's christening, this girl is working it out.
"Stick It Up Your Jumper": This is a phrase that Anna uses to tell someone to go shove it and I'm going to find a way to bring it back into the modern vocabulary. This is my "fetch" and I am going to make it happen. At first I thought it was "stick it up your dumper," which would be gross and vulgar but also a great way to tell someone to shove something you don't want up their ass. I wish I could tell Julian Fellows to stick the Bates in prison storyline up his dumper. As far as favorite expressions go, Bates telling Jimmy, "don't be a big girl's blouse about it," was a very close second.
Edith Throwing Shade: Edith's stock is certainly on the rise. Not only did Mary and Violet both ask her for mysterious favors when she went into London, but she also finally expressed to her dreamy new editor that she's sort of sick of her sister Mary. When he said her sister looked radiant in her wedding announcement but that Edith also looked good she replies, "It's a relief that I'm not an object of pity to the entire world." Oh, Edith, laugh at yourself before everyone else does. But she has no reason to be sour. She was wonderful at the jazz club and investigating the man she wants to be her love. She's going to be a modern city girl yet.
Violet's Night with the Tradesmen: When Branson's jerkface brother ate dinner upstairs with the fancy people, Violet told a story about taking a train home from the north of England in a blizzard when it stopped and she and some other highborn folks had to spend an evening dining with some "tradesman." I can just imagine how awesome this was and in my mind she got totally wasted with them and traded barbs and beat them all at cards and hiccuped and drank more shots while they were all passed out in the hay as the fire roared and glared all their faces with the orange glow. If they ever make a prequel movie about Violet, I want this to be the only story in it.
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Violet Has All the Answers: Speaking of Violet, what would everyone in Downton do without her (and what are they going to do in the inevitable near future when she goes up to the great drawing room in the sky?). Violet solved Ethel's problems and got her a new job and close to her son. She figured out how to get Branson back in Downton and her great granddaughter closet to her faimly. She one-upped Isobel, which is always good for a laugh, she got Edith to do her bidding and convinced her to get a job in London, and she did all of this while still having time to change into her cricket whites and entertain everyone on the sidelines with her banter. For a woman who is retired, she sure has plenty to do.
Thomas Standing Up for Himself: When Thomas gets caught in a sticky situation (though probably not as sticky a situation as he was hoping for), everyone just expects him to roll over (but not in the way he was hoping for) and get fired and take it like a man (again, not how he was hoping for). But no, he does not. When Mr. Carson calls him disgusting he says that he is not and that he won't hear anything like that. Thomas may be loathsome, but at least he doesn't loathe himself. I also give Mrs. Hughes, Mr. Bates, and Lord Grantham credit for sticking up for him. No one wants to say that a homosexual is acceptable, but they all said, in their little way, that as long as what he is doesn't have any negative effects on them, he can go on being it quietly. In those days, "don't ask, don't tell" was quite a victory indeed.
Bates New Ensemble: It took the man going to jail and getting a new suit to be the most dapper thing on the planet. Good for him! Speaking of which, while he looked amazing all dolled up, Anna looked great with her hair down — for a change — when they were painting their shabby little cottage. I hope to see her off-duty look more often.
Everything About Rose: We need to talk for a minute about cousin Rose, who is like the Sammy Jo character from Dynasty all over again. (PS – what do we have to do to get Heather Locklear on this show?) Rose is young, pretty, stupid, flirty, deceptive, and a whole heap of trouble. She is my favorite kind of girl. She cooks up a scheme to get out of the country and macking on her married lover in a jazz club in London so quickly that it made Bates' stay in prison seem like it took an entire season. Oh wait, it did. Anyway, that Rose is into Le Jazz Hot and stays out all night and I just have to love her and hope that she's going to be back at Downton ruffling feather and messing things up in the seasons to come.
Aunt Rosamond: She's no cousin Rose, but a little dose of Aunt Rosamond is always welcome. Who doesn't love the family gossip who is always down for a bit of intrigue?
Lord Grantham Is Like John Boenher: The master of the house (try to read that without getting the Les Mis song stuck in your head) has been an absolute devil this year. He's just a reactionary jerk who wants everything to go back to the way it used to be even though the way things used to be is classist, wrong, awful, and is keeping everyone from being happy. That's not really something to love, but what I love is that he feels all these things and tries to weild his considerable power, but no one listens to him and he gets nothing done. Who does that sound like? Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner. They're basically the same person, except Boehner has a fake tan and cries more. And Lord Grantham dresses more modernly.
Bye Bye Ethel: Thank god she is gone for good. Can we focus on something else for a change?
Thomas Screwed Everyone Over: Thomas sure had a rough time of it last night. O'Brien turned on him, he almost lost his job, then Jimmy went after him and he almost couldn't get a reference, and he would have been traveling to India to lug tea with a cousin of his. But Bates, Mrs. Hughes, and Lord Gratham all stepped up for him (mostly because he's good at cricket) and not only did he end up with a job, but with a better job. That means O'Brien will have to suffer his revenge, Carson will have to train him, the other male staff members will have to defer to him and Alfred (who tried to get him arrested) lost his gig as first footman to keep Jimmy happy now that Thomas is staying. It seemed like he was going to be the one ousted but he ended up screwing everyone in the end (not in the way he hoped).
Everyone in Purple at the Christening: Finally mourning is over and we are out of black and into matching Easter pastels. I couldn't be happier, but I didn't know the Catholic church allowed outfits so festive.
Violets Quip of the Week: "You can not want your only granddaughter to grow up over a ga-rage with that drunken gorilla."
Bates Prison Story: This is my last time to bitch about how awful this story is, so I'm going to take it. It was dumb. And we still don't even know what happened, exactly. He went to prison, people didn't like him, so they kept him from the outside world. Then he hid some weird paper thing from the guards and then everyone liked him again and the next thing you know he's free. It didn't make any sense. And what was that stupid paper thing anyway? And it's not like anything changed after his stint in prison. He's still the same old Bates. He says that prison changed him but he's back skulking around doorways and eavesdropping on conversations just as sure as the first day he was on the job. Why the hell did this have to take so long? Sybil can get sick and die in one episode but we have to wait an entire season for a nonsense prison plot to unravel? This was the worst.
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Stupid Ivy: I thought there wasn't a kitchen maid dumber than Daisy and then I met Ivy. Sure Jimmy is cute and all, but why would she choose him over the delightful ginger giant Aflred is beyond me, especially when Jimmy clearly isn't into her. The only time he flirts with her is when he's overcompensating for everyone thinkin he's gay. Alfred is hot, he wants you, and he will be good for you. Why are you ignoring him, Ivy? I hope that next season there is a whole plot where Daisy hates him and decides to poison Ivy.
Thomas is a Rapist: I know that O'Brien pushed him to it and he really wanted to think that Jimmy loved him, but even if he thought he was going to be into some man on man action, why did he have to go and rape Jimmy in his sleep like that? I would love to make out with Thomas and I probably would have had the same reaction if I woke up with another man in my grill like that. What ever happened to lighting some candles or moonlight strolls or something romantic like that?
RELATED: 'Downton Abbey' Recap: Nobody Loves Edith
Cora and Robert Make Up: Again, we had to endure an entire season of Bates in prison and Cora and Robert make up over night without even a mention of it. Cora blamed her husband for killing their daughter and one little intervention from the doctor and everything is hunky dory like a David Bowie album. Oh please.
Bad Shirtlessness: We have waited all season to see Jimmy shirtless and they blow it with him bathing and running across the room holding his shirt in front of his torso. When we finally get Branson out of his bulging undershirt they better not bungle this in the same way.
Cricket: God, this whole stupid match seemed so arbitrary and tacked on. It was fun when they did things like this season one — where each episode was a bit more self contained, so some drama about the flower show was charming — but in what was the last episode of the season in Britain to interject this cooked up cricket match just seemed superfluous. And we don't even find out who wins! The only thing we know is that Mosely loses, and that is a pretty good reason to have anything, but couldn't they have done better than cricket? God.
Edith's Lover Has a Crazy Wife: What the hell is this? Jane Eyre?
Matthew and Mary Go Behind Each Other's Backs: I know that everyone is supposed to love this couple and think that they're all great and they're going to have a baby and blah blah blah, but isn't their relationship kind of messed up? I mean, Mary always hectors Matthew into doing whatever she wants him to do and then, when there's something she wants to do she goes behind his back and goes to the doctor under a fake name so he won't know. She even has surgery on her lady parts and can't even tell him about it. This is her husband! She's supposed to share everything with him but something as important as them being able to have children and she can't even bring it up? She doesn't have to get into the gynecological details (no one wants that) but still. And he's no better, taking off to London in secret while she has to deal with her father getting all upset that her husband wants to change the entire estate around. I give her credit for standing by him while he and Branson modernize the joint, but if these two want to last, they need to think about how their relationship works.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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It can’t just ALL be about a boy wizard named Harry Potter. There have to be other fantasy-driven stories grounded in reality that are just as exciting. And so there is: The Spiderwick Chronicles a series of short books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black which tells us about the magical creatures who live around us but who remain invisible so we humans won’t freak out. Probably a wise choice for most but there are a few who want to see the creatures. One such person is Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn) a turn-of-the-century naturalist who has witnessed the likes of sprites goblins hobgoblins ogres and trolls at work. He has documented their secrets and habits in his Field Guide--a book that if placed in the wrong hands could make some fantastical beast maliciously omnipotent. Jump ahead some 80 years when we meet Spiderwick’s descendents the Grace family who have moved into his dilapidated house in the woods. Newly divorced mom Helen (Mary-Louise Parker) has uprooted her kids--teenage Mallory (Sarah Bolger) and twins Jared and Simon (both Freddie Highmore)--to start a new life with Jared being the one protesting the loudest. That is until he finds Spiderwick’s field guide and quite literally opens Pandora’s box giving evil ogre Mulgarath (Nick Nolte) who has desperately wanted the book since its inception the window of opportunity he’s been waiting for. The Grace kids have to band together--with a few otherworldly allies of course--to protect the book at all costs. Although Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) struggles at times with the American accent the young British lad continues to prove his worthiness in the acting department--and joins the ranks of playing twins onscreen that dates back to Patty Duke on The Patty Duke Show (yes they were just cousins but they were identical cousins). Highmore does a nice job distinguishing between the two boys but he seems to have the most fun playing Jared. And rightly so since Jared is the true hero of the story. He is deeply wounded by his parents’ divorce blaming his mother for it all but in discovering this magical and dangerous world that goes way beyond his personal problems he quickly snaps to it. Bolger (In America) too takes her clichéd older-sister-who-knows-everything role and freshens it up adding a fierce determination to protect her family--with an expressive face that makes her very watchable. The adult cast isn’t nearly as important but they all fit in nicely especially Joan Plowright as Great Aunt Lucinda Spiderwick’s 80-something daughter who saw her father taken away by sylphs the keepers of the faeries’ secrets when she was 6 and has been trying to explain it ever since. Then there are the voices of some of the creatures the Graces meet including Martin Short as the ever-faithful house brownie Thimbletack; Seth Rogen as the hobgoblin Hogsqueal a piggish and friendly fellow whose spit in the eye gives you the Sight; and Nolte as the horrible villainous Mulgarath. OK all those who believe in faeries raise your hand! The Spiderwick Chronicles is just the kind of story that gets an imaginative kid to run out to the garden to start looking for sprites and director Mark Waters inherently understands this. Better known for his comedies such as Mean Girls and Freaky Friday Waters nonetheless grabs hold of the Spiderwick’s mythology and firmly plants it in reality with normal modern kids encountering a whole magical realm. Taking from the illustrations of co-author Tony DiTerlizzi Waters also gives us new versions of magical creatures we’ve read about for ages. Goblins for example look like giant frogs and act like attack dogs in this film as opposed to the more civilized view of them in the Harry Potter books--and goblins in Spiderwick can be killed by tomato sauce which melts them. Nice touch. Trolls too aren’t great big lumbering fellows but more dinosaur-like in Spiderwick. And let’s just say ogre Mulgarath looks nothing like Shrek but more so a devilish creature with yellow eyes and great big horns. Spiderwick is indeed scary at times maybe too scary for the younger kids but the action sequences and chase scenes are thrilling enough to keep everyone else’s attention.
All the glamorous Catherine Zeta-Jones has to do is tap her heels three times and, just like that, she's returning to her humble homeland of Wales to do the independent film Coming Out. Under the direction of another Welshwoman, Sara Sugarman, Zeta-Jones will produce and star in the film about a Welsh rugby team whose coach unexpectedly dies. Their only hope is to rely on the deceased coach's gay son to "choreograph them to victory." But don't think Zeta-Jones is bowing out of the limelight forever. Oh, no, she wants that Oscar. So, Zeta-Jones also will star with her equally famous husband Michael Douglas in Smoke and Mirrors. The period drama follows the efforts of a French 19th century illusionist, along with his female sidekick, to expose a sorcerer who is inciting anti-colonial revolution. Production will start mid-fall.
Roberts' Atlantic crossing
Julia Roberts, following the leads of Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones's Diary) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Sliding Doors), will most likely have to take some serious dialect lessons to perfect a British accent for a new untitled film (the one she had in Mary Reilly doesn't count). She will take on the real-life role of a Yorkshire woman whose murder led police on one of their biggest manhunts, followed by one of the most controversial miscarriages of justice in the United Kingdom. Roberts will play Wendy Sewell, whose gravitation towards elicit sex gained her the nickname "The Bakewell Tart," London's The Observer reports. Sewell was murdered in 1973. Maintaining his innocence, 17-year-old Tim Downing was convicted of killing Sewell. Local newspaper editor Don Hale spent six years trying to clear the young man's name. Interesting. Let's see what the Oscar-winning actress dishes up.
Hallstrom and DiCaprio play "Catch"
Speaking of more true stories, director Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat) is in final negotiations to direct DreamWorks' Catch Me If You Can, with Leonardo DiCaprio, who certainly has taken the heat off himself in the last few years, attached to star. This is based on the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., the only teen to ever make the FBI's 10 most wanted list for impersonating several hundred different people and writing bad checks between 1964 and 1966. Abagnale Jr. passed himself off as a Pan Am copilot, a chief resident pediatrician and an assistant attorney general. He had written $6 million in bad checks in all 50 states and 26 foreign countries by the time he was caught. That's one busy bee. And with Hallstrom and DiCaprio together again, after their other quirky but compelling film What's Eating Gilbert Grape (DiCaprio was nominated for an Oscar), Catch might one to watch out for.
Allen looking at the stars … again
Hey, why mess with a good thing? Tim Allen is no dummy. After his success in 1999's comedy hit Galaxy Quest, Allen is in talks to star in Paramount Pictures' comedy StarChild, about another romp with aliens--Roswell aliens, to be exact. A socially challenged CIA agent is assigned the task of getting a young Roswell alien back home before interplanetary war erupts on Earth. Peter Segal (Nutty Professor II: The Klumps) will direct. Think about this one carefully, Tim.
"I know nuuuth-ting!"
But we do. Looks like the brainy fellows at Revolution Studios have decided to bring the wacky and popular '60s and '70s TV sitcom Hogan Heroes to the big screen. We'll get to see all the shenanigans of Hogan (maybe Tim Allen should think about this one instead) and his oddball band of World War II POWs, as they run an underground Allied base of operations at the camp while pulling a fast one on the incompetent Col. Klink and his sidekick, Sgt. Schultz (Chris Farley would have been great). And why not? The studios haven't completely tapped out the arsenal of old TV shows as possible movie material. Ironically, the original series' star, Bob Crane, is having his own life brought to the big screen by director Paul Schrader. The film, Auto-Focus, highlights the sordid details of Crane's life after Heroes that ultimately led to his brutal murder in 1978.
Court TV makes movies
Court TV, which owes its popularity to the sensational trials of O.J. Simpson and the Menendez brothers, has decided on its first original movie. It is a project on the aftermath of the 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, during which four black girls were killed. The case made headlines recently when an Alabama jury convicted Thomas Blanton of the crime. Blanton is the second man brought to justice in this case after the 1977 conviction of Robert Chambliss. Tentatively titled A Bombing in Birmingham, production will start in the late summer for a 2002 airing. Not sure, though, if anyone can outdo Spike Lee's extraordinary Oscar-nominated documentary on the same subject, 4 Little Girls. That's a hard act to follow.
The power of three
Indie gal-pals Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey and Fairuza Balk will star in Enter Fleeing for writer/director Rebecca Miller. Based on Miller's collection of short stories, Personal Velocity, the film tells the tale of three women-Greta (Posey), Delia (Sedgwick) and Paula (Balk)-who each struggle to flee from the men who confine their personal freedom. Sounds like the ultimate chick flick--an empowering chick flick, the best kind. Shooting begins this week in New York.
Rap Queen large and in charge
Rap singer/actress/talk show host Queen Latifah is in negotiations to star and executive produce the comedy In the Houze for Disney and Hyde Park Entertainment. A man takes to the Internet to find a date but ends up embarking on an online relationship with a convict (Latifah) who makes up several stories about herself. When she's finally released, she seeks out the guy and wreaks havoc on his upper-middle-class life. This will mark the versatile Latifah's first starring role in a film, having played mostly supporting characters in films like The Bone Collector and Living Out Loud.